The distinct design of porthole windows serve an important role aboard any ship or vessel and are much more complex than they seem. With these windows, form follows function as they are stylistically appealing as well as serve a very specific function. In addition to providing light, porthole windows also relieve a bit of the stuffiness of living in such close quarters by providing some fresh air when they are opened. In addition, porthole windows also offer a view to the outside and even though they are small, they still offer a sizeable amount of light and sufficient air to pass through. When closed shut, portholes keep a tight barrier from water entering the ship and the various storms that can surface at sea.
In terms of style, porthole windows don’t differ that much from standard windows in that they consist of a glass panel and a metal frame. One aspect that makes them unique compared to regular windows is that they are always circular in shape rather than rectangular or square. Many portholes come equipped with an additional apparatus called a “storm cover” in order to serve as protection from the drastic weather at sea. The storm cover also blocks light so that if the crew is trying to sleep or prefers darkness, they can use the cover to adequately block the light. In the navy, the storm cover also serves to protect the crew from hostile attacks stemming from enemy ships.
The simplicity of its circular structure aids in maintaining the strength of the hull and providing protection against forceful waves when they crash against the ship. Porthole windows are not just used in seafaring vessels, they can be found on spaceships as well. But on the spacecraft, the window must employ a material that can withstand drastic weather changes. The ones at the International Space Station are made of Quartz glass and are highly durable and crack-proof.
In a submarine, however, the portholes are usually made of acrylic plastic because the acrylic sits flat and doesn’t distort the view.
Porthole windows are an integral part of any moving vessel as they provide a whole range of functions. Regardless of being at sea or in space, portholes serve a specific function and maintain the pressure in the vessel as well as protect the crew from enemy attacks.
Even though porthole windows may not seem very advanced technologically, it is due to their simple design that they are so successful at keeping the crew safe and providing protection from stormy weather. Whether made from glass or plastic, the important factor is that they are durable enough to withstand extremes both in terms of weather or counter attacks. It is hard to believe that there are so many interesting facts surrounding something that seems so simple and straightforward.
Porthole windows provide a porthole into the symbiotic nature of form and functionality and the genius that resides within some of the world’s simplest designs, proving that elaborate and ornate is not always better. There are many useful tips that can be learned from the design of a porthole window.